The Gradients in the 47 Tuc Red Giant Branch Bump and Horizontal Branch are Consistent With a Centrally-Concentrated, Helium-Enriched Second Stellar Generation

The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 5.99). 02/2011; 736(2). DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/736/2/94
Source: arXiv


We combine ground and space-based photometry of the Galactic globular cluster
47 Tuc to measure four independent lines of evidence for a helium gradient in
the cluster, whereby stars in the cluster outskirts would have a lower initial
helium abundance than stars in and near the cluster core. First and second, we
show that the red giant branch bump (RGBB) stars exhibit gradients in their
number counts and brightness. With increased separation from the cluster
center, they become more numerous relative to the other red giant (RG) stars.
They also become fainter. For our third and fourth lines of evidence, we show
that the horizontal branch (HB) of the cluster becomes both fainter and redder
for sightlines farther from the cluster center. These four results are
respectively detected at the 2.3$\sigma$, 3.6$\sigma$, 7.7$\sigma$ and
4.1$\sigma$ levels. Each of these independent lines of evidence is found to be
significant in the cluster-outskirts; closer in, the data are more compatible
with uniform mixing. Our radial profile is qualitatively consistent with but
quantitatively tighter than previous results based on CN absorption. These
observations are qualitatively consistent with a scenario wherein a second
generation of stars with modestly enhanced helium and CNO abundance formed deep
within the gravitational potential of a cluster of previous generation stars
having more canonical abundances.

Download full-text


Available from: Marc H. Pinsonneault, Feb 19, 2015
  • Source
    • "Bragaglia et al. (2010a) found that the luminosity of the RGB bump, which should increase with He abundance, is fainter in first generation than second generation in 14 globular clusters. Nataf et al. (2011) found that the RGB bump is brighter at the centre of 47 Tuc, where second generation stars should dominate . The colours of second generation RGB stars are bluer than those of first generation ones, in agreement with expectations for a higher He content (e.g., Bragaglia et al. 2010a; Sbordone et al. 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent progress in studies of globular clusters has shown that they are not simple stellar populations, being rather made of multiple generations. Evidence stems both from photometry and spectroscopy. A new paradigm is then arising for the formation of massive star clusters, which includes several episodes of star formation. While this provides an explanation for several features of globular clusters, including the second parameter problem, it also opens new perspectives about the relation between globular clusters and the halo of our Galaxy, and by extension of all populations with a high specific frequency of globular clusters, such as, e.g., giant elliptical galaxies. We review progress in this area, focusing on the most recent studies. Several points remain to be properly understood, in particular those concerning the nature of the polluters producing the abundance pattern in the clusters and the typical timescale, the range of cluster masses where this phenomenon is active, and the relation between globular clusters and other satellites of our Galaxy.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics Review 01/2012; 20. DOI:10.1007/s00159-012-0050-3 · 17.74 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Omega Cen is composed of several stellar populations. Their history might allow us to reconstruct the evolution of this complex object. We performed a statistical cluster analysis on the large data set provided by Johnson and Pilachowski (2010). Stars in Omega Cen divide into three main groups. The metal-poor group includes about a third of the total. It shows a moderate O-Na anticorrelation, and similarly to other clusters, the O-poor second generation stars are more centrally concentrated than the O-rich first generation ones. This whole population is La-poor, with a pattern of abundances for n-capture elements which is very close to a scaled r-process one. The metal-intermediate group includes the majority of the cluster stars. This is a much more complex population, with an internal spread in the abundances of most elements. It shows an extreme O-Na anticorrelation, with a very numerous population of extremely O-poor and He-rich second generation stars. This second generation is very centrally concentrated. This whole population is La-rich, with a pattern of the abundances of n-capture elements that shows a strong contribution by the s-process. The spread in metallicity within this metal-intermediate population is not very large, and we might attribute it either to non uniformities of an originally very extended star forming region, or to some ability to retain a fraction of the ejecta of the core collapse SNe that exploded first, or both. As previously noticed, the metal-rich group has an Na-O correlation, rather than anticorrelation. There is evidence for the contribution of both massive stars ending their life as core-collapse SNe, and intermediate/low mass stars, producing the s-capture elements. Kinematics of this population suggests that it formed within the cluster rather than being accreted.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 05/2011; 534. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201117093 · 4.38 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We present new sets of nonlinear, time-dependent convective hydrodynamical models of RR Lyrae stars assuming two metal (Z=0.0005, Z=0.001) and three helium abundances (Y=0.24, 0.30, 0.38). For each chemical composition we constructed a grid of fundamental (FU) and first overtone (FO) models covering a broad range of stellar masses and luminosities. To constrain the impact of the helium content on RR Lyrae properties, we adopted two observables --period distribution, luminosity amplitudes-- that are independent of distance and reddening. The current predictions confirm that the helium content has a marginal effect on the pulsation properties. The key parameter causing the difference between canonical and He-enhanced observables is the luminosity. We compared current predictions with the sample of 189 RR Lyrae stars in omega Cen and we found that the period range of He-enhanced models is systematically longer than observed. These findings apply to metal-poor and metal-intermediate He-enhanced models. To further constrain the impact of He-enhanced structures on the period distribution we also computed a series of synthetic HB models and we found that the predicted period distribution, based on a Gaussian sampling in mass, agrees quite well with observations. This applies not only to the minimum fundamentalized period of RR Lyrae stars (0.39 vs 0.34 day), but also to the fraction of Type II Cepheids (2% vs 3%). We also computed a series of synthetic HB models assuming a mixed HB population in which the 80% is made of canonical HB structures, while the 20% is made of He-enhanced (Y=0.30) HB structures. We found that the fraction of Type II Cepheids predicted by these models is almost a factor of two larger than observed (5% vs 3%). This indicates that the fraction of He-enhanced structures in omega Cen cannot be larger than 20%.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2011; 738(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/738/1/111 · 5.99 Impact Factor
Show more